Reforms to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation System

In 2006, Ohio overhauled its workers’ compensation system. Several of those changes weakened protections for injured workers or made it more challenging to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, including:

  • Raising the burden of proof for workers who aggravate a pre-existing condition. Under the reform, claimants are required to submit objective medical evidence to establish substantial aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
  • Reduction in the non-working wage loss compensation from 200 weeks to 52 weeks. This is for workers who are able to physically return to work but cannot secure a job that is consistent with their abilities.
  • Reduction in the life of claims to five years. Medical-only and lost-time claims automatically close five years from the date of the last medical bill or payment of compensation.

These negative reforms have made it much more difficult for an injured worker to pursue a claim and navigate the workers’ compensation system without the help of a workers’ compensation specialist attorney. Our certified workers’ compensation specialists, Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos, can help you with your claim. Contact them at Kademenos, Wisehart & Hines Co., L.P.A. today at (419) 625-7770.

What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Available to Injured Workers?

To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio, the work-related injury must have occurred in the course of employment or it must have arisen out of the course of employment. Under Ohio Rev. Code 4123.01, the types of injuries covered by workers’ compensation insurance include:

  • Workplace accident
  • Occupational disease
  • A condition caused by repeated motions

The types and amount of workers’ compensation benefits available to you will depend on the nature of your injury. Here are some of the types of benefits available:

  • Scheduled Loss – This includes amputation or loss of use of a specific body part. For example, an amputation of a finger of a hand has a set amount of compensation.
  • Temporary Total Disability – This involves a complete disability for a limited amount of time due to the work injury sustained.
  • Weekly Benefits – The injured worker can receive weekly monetary benefits while they are unable to return to their former position of employment and recovering from their injury.
  • Permanent Partial Disability – This is an impairment award due to loss of a percentage of the function of the injured worker’s body part as a result of the injury.
  • Permanent Total Disability – This is weekly benefits paid to the injured worker for the rest of their life due to the fact that they are permanently unable to return to any gainful employment.
  • Facial Disfigurement – There is a specific set award if there is facial scarring from an injury.
  • Wage Loss – This is to replace an injured worker’s wages they were earning at the time of the injury if the injury prevents them from returning to their former position of employment, and because of the injury they had to take, for example, a light duty job at a lesser pay.
  • Living Maintenance – This is paid to an injured worker while they are in the BWC vocational program and looking to find work within their physical capabilities.
  • Death Benefits – These are paid to a spouse or dependent of the injured worker who died as a result of the injury. Those benefits are paid for the rest of beneficiary’s life.

Settling Workers’ Compensation Claims

Any of the benefits available to workers may be paid out in Lump Sum Settlements. This is a settlement of an injured worker’s claim. It could result in settling the entire claim, which are claims for future benefits as well as medical bills. It is also possible that the claim could settle strictly for the benefits portion of the claim leaving the medical open so the injured worker has medical coverage.

After a period of time, an injured workers’ compensation claim may be suitable for settlement depending on the injured worker’s circumstances. What this means is the injured worker has the option of doing nothing, and if they are not getting treatment and not getting benefits, the claim will expire and die on its own. Or, in the alternative, they can contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who will be able to settle the claim, get additional money out of the claim that the injured worker was not aware of.

Many times injured workers are of the belief that just because they filed a workers’ comp claim, they were paid benefits, their medical bills were paid, and nothing is going on in the claim currently, they believe that the claim is closed or dead. That is not correct. Claims stay open for five years from the date of injury or five years from last payment of compensation benefit or a medical bill. Therefore, even though there is nothing going on in the claim, the injured worker may be entitled to additional benefits listed above. It could also be a situation where the injured worker’s claim is ready for settlement and the injured worker could get additional monetary benefits out of the claim.

If an injured worker has health insurance and settles the claim, the law provides that once the workers’ comp claim is settled that their health insurance becomes primary to pay the bills. This is not the case with Medicare. If Medicare is involved, then there has to be documents and the appropriate filing of those documents, if the claim is to be settled, to protect the injured worker and to protect Medicare.

Contact an Experienced Ohio Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help

At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA we have helped injured workers throughout Ohio secure workers’ compensation benefits to cover the costs of their medical care and lost wages. Our skilled team of attorneys includes Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos, who are certified workers’ compensation specialists by the Ohio State Bar Association. We understand how stressful a work-related injury can be and are here to shoulder the burden of pursuing a Workers’ Compensation claim while you focus on recovery.

Call us today at (419) 625-7770 to receive a free consultation.